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FG kickstarts construction of 36 state-of-the-art hostels across the country for the year 2024- EChono

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Favour Ishember, Abuja

In a bid to mitigate the deficit of off-campus housing plaguing Nigerian tertiary institutions,the Federal Government has kickstarted the process of constructing 36 state-of-the-art hostels across the country for the year 2024.

Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Arc. Sonny Echono, who stated this when he played host to the new leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), led by its President, Comr. Lucky Emonefe, said government has indicated its willingness to construct more hostel accommodations once these first sets are completed.

Reacting to the association’s call for maintenance of TETFund projects in beneficiary institutions across the country and construction of NANS secretariat in Abuja, Arc. Echono pointed out that there is increased allocation for maintenance of TETFund infrastructures above five years in the 2024 intervention cycle.

Speaking on the NANS secretariat, the agency boss promised to look into it and get the buy-in of the Ministry of Education,
adding that the intervention agency would work out modalities to incorporate the students body for joint monitoring of projects across beneficiary institutions.

Echono, who lamented over the increasing challenge of student housing in institutions of higher learning , said:”As I speak, this year, we shall be providing hostels for students in 36 tertiary institutions across the country. Because we realise that part of the places where our students live are so deplorable. And only about 15 percent of our students are staying on campus. Many of them are living outside campus, some of them can’t even come back for evening lectures because of the cost and the trouble of walking all the way and coming back. And there is also the security situation of their areas”

“So we have a policy to ensure that as much as possible, we will do the minimum of 50 to 60 percent of our students to live on campus. And provide those hostels. And those hostels will not be match boxes and shanties. They will be solid buildings that can attract other students from anywhere in the world to compare with what other people enjoy when they leave Nigeria”

The Executive Secretary congratulated the national leadership on their successful election even as he applauded the body for its constructive engagements on issues. Nigerian students, he stressed, will continue to be at the centre of any project in tertiary institutions.

Echono also urged students to on-board on its digital services platform for tertiary institutions – Tertiary Education Research, Applications, and Services (TERAS).

This, he said, would address critical challenges faced by students, researchers, and institutions in accessing educational resources and research materials.

According to him, other services such as sponsored mobile internet access, EagleScan for plagiarism checking, aggregated journal and research subscription inclusive of EBSCO, Blackboard Learning Management System, digital literacy, and intervention funding are available to both public and private tertiary institutions in the country.

“We will continue to support NANS, partner with NANS because there is no doubt that any policy, programme, project that you want to do in the education sector, students must be at the centre of it. Higher institutions exist because of students,” he stated.

Earlier, NANS President, Comr Lucky Emonefe said the visit was to formally introduce the new leadership of the association to TETFund management as well as work out areas of collaboration.

Citing the increase in TETFund’s 2024 budget and the new Students’ Loan Bill currently before the National Assembly, the NANS President applauded President Bola Tinubu for his ‘love and commitment to the upliftment of education in Nigeria’ .

He also lauded the TETFund boss for throwing his weight behind the bill at the just concluded public hearing on the proposed legislation.

He said: “We are not going to relent. We are going to complement your efforts to ensure that these gigantic projects that TETFund is ensuring in our tertiary institutions. On our part, we are going to monitor, supervise and protect education infrastructure to complement the efforts of what Mr President and TETFund is doing”.

Among delegation that received the NANS leadership is a member of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TetFund and lawmaker representing Delta North Senatorial District, Senator Ned Nwoko, who pledged the support of the committee to the NANS leadership.

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